Herdsmen cannot be Labeled terrorist group because the killing is between farmers and Herdsmen-Sani
TheGuardian reports that Some South East leaders have condemned the Federal Government’s handling of killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen. They minced no word in concluding that government has taken sides with the marauding killers.
Former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Dozie Ikedife; Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma; President Emeritus, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, and former National Chairman of Justice Party (JP), Chief Ralph Obioha, were united in expressing deep sadness at government’s complacency, which according to them is encouraging the killings.
They stated that it was preposterous that a government that unleashed terror on the South East not long ago in the guise of Operation Python Dance over agitations by unarmed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and also went ahead to tag the group “terrorists” has suddenly lost its voice as armed Fulani herdsmen embark on a killing spree and sacking of communities.
“The way that the Federal Government is handling this matter falls short of expectation. It looks like the beginning of something that has been planned for a long time. Government’s seeming silence is suspicious. The way something like this has happened and nobody is taking responsibility leaves one wondering whether we have a government. These herdsmen use guns to sack villages and destroy farmlands. They sack towns and are killing people on a daily basis, yet the government has not called them terrorists. But they were in a hurry to call the IPOB a terrorist group even when they have no weapons and have not killed anybody before. On top of that, we have a bill on grazing reserves and cattle colony. Where on earth do we have that kind of thing in the 21st century? Cattle rearing should not be in the wilderness,” Ikedife told The Guardian.
He continued: “What is happening is fanning the embers of disunity and threatening the wellbeing of the country and the government is keeping quiet and seems unconcerned. It does not show that government is being responsible and sensitive enough; it falls short of expectations. The president says it takes time for him to make up his mind on something, but he cannot be silent when the house is on fire. You cannot be playing hide and seek when there are things destabilizing the country.”
On Buhari’s failure to visit Benue State in the wake of the killing of over 73 since January 1st, he said: “He does not need to visit but he can do something from where he is because of his security and age, which must be put into consideration. Let him stay there and give instructions and those affected will carry it out.”
He stated that with the level of displacement and hunger being caused by the development, it would be impossible for the people to participate in the 2019 general election.
Ikedife suggested that “government must take a stand and say something. We must say that what is happening is bad, and put in motion plans to stop them. The government has to wake up. A government that regularly organises Operation Python Dance, Operation Crocodile Smile among others is now watching its citizens being massacred in their homes. This leaves much to be desired. It means that something is wrong somewhere and we are watching and waiting as the music is being played by the Buhari administration.”
Chief Uwazuruike, who is thoroughly appalled at the Federal Government’s reaction to the continuous killings expressed shock that “two mobile policemen were killed when these people attacked their station, but the Inspector General of Police and the Federal Government have swept the matter under the carpet. It is the height of insult to the Nigerian people. The same people are claiming ownership of an entire state and nobody is holding them accountable. This is to say the least inhuman.
“Till today, the Federal Government has not sent any delegation to Benue State and did not attend the burial of the victims killed by the herdsmen. This is an indication that the Federal Government is partisan, compromised and insensitive to the plight of certain ethnic region. To add salt to injury, the Minister of Agriculture, who of course is an indigene of Benue State is talking about cattle colonies. What in the world gave him that kind of idea? We have an insensitive Federal Government that has refused to take the blame for the loss of lives and property of the people that voted it into power in 2015.
“The day President Buhari flew to Kaduna State, it would have taken him few minutes to look in at Benue and empathise with the people, but he did not. This means that there are people he is meant to protect and care for, not the Benue people.
“When the IPOB without arms was canvassing a referendum, the Federal Government sent soldiers to march throughout the streets of Abia State, massacred IPOB members and silenced their voices, but even with the scale of human loss in Benue, government says it is a communal clash. On the one hand, those who bear no arms are branded terrorists, on the other hand, those who kill with AK47 are protected. As a lawyer, I know what murder is and we know that this one is pogrom and genocide. They were killed because they were farmers; they were killed because they were Christians, and they were killed because they are of a certain ethnic group. Let the Federal Government do what is required under the constitution and protect the people. Let the government fish out the killers. More killings are going on within border communities of Benue and Taraba states on a daily basis. Government visited South East with Operation Python Dance and branded IPOB a terrorist organisation, why is the same government complacent with people that are killing others daily? It is the height of insensitivity.”
Rev. Chukwuma is of the firm view that “the government has shown that it is not there to protect the interest of all Nigerians.He therefore warned that, “the people are being provoked into taking up arms to defend themselves. When this is done, then it will result in full- blown war.”
He said it was unacceptable that Buhari could “continue to toy with the lives of the people in the guise of herdsmen,” stressing that, “I have thought that by now he would have provided us with details about the attacks and those behind it. If his mission in government is to superintend over the killings of those who are opposed to certain policies, then he has failed. There is no reason why this level of blood should be spilled in Benue and you expect Nigeria to progress.”
For Chief Obioha: “This matter has been allowed to linger for quite some time and has created serious division in the land. There is no reason for any herdsman to be armed to go about killing people, just as there is nobody under the earth that will not challenge anybody who has come to destroy his source of livelihood.”
“From the way the government has behaved so far, it is clear that it has taken sides and this is unacceptable to everybody. President Buhari must rise to the killings and show that he is responsible to all Nigerians, “ he said, adding that, “It is unfortunate that Nigerians are losing confidence in his administration because of various developments that government has not deemed necessary to address. I should think that a solution should be given to the situation immediately,” he added.
However, the Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Elder Anthony Sani, has faulted calls by Nigerians for the Federal Government to declare Fulani herdsmen as terrorists. According to the scribe, since the attacks and killings are between herdsmen and farmers, labelling the herdsmen a terrorist group may be impossible.
Sani said in His conversation with The Guardian that it would take concerted effort of the federal and state governments and patriotic Nigerians to overcome the incessant clashes. He said: “I honestly do not know how that can easily be done, considering many of these attacks are between herdsmen and farmers. Consider what happened in Taraba State, which has experienced many attacks and reprisal attacks resulting in the loss of lives of many innocent people. Would you declare all the groups terrorist groups?”
Sani explained that “as long as the clashes between herdsmen and farmers have not abetted, most Nigerians are bound to conclude that not only the Federal Government, but also state governments have not done enough in curbing the attacks.
“There is therefore the urgent need for concerted effort at all levels in order to bring the situation under control and to address the underlying causes of the clashes.”He continued: “While I empathise with the affected governments and the communities, I doubt the wisdom of those who blame President Muhammadu Buhari for not visiting Benue State in order to commiserate with the government, people and affected families. I say this because there were so many states across the country where violent clashes resulted in the loss of lives of innocent Nigerians almost at the same time.
“We had those who were killed in Rivers State. There were reported similar attacks in Taraba State, which cost many lives. We also heard about those lives that were lost through suicide bombings in a mosque in Adamawa State. In Kaduna State, a traditional ruler was killed. All those happened within the same span of time and made a personal visit to these places by the president very difficult.”
Sani added: “I hope Nigerians would show understanding and make do with whoever visits the killings’ scenes on behalf of the Federal Government and commiserates with the affected states and the people. After all, purposeful leadership is one which impels progress by multiplying its strength through others.”